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Evidently, if a guy is a little tipsy and super horny it’s OK to rape someone. At least in Nicaragua.

Fátima Hernández was sexually assaulted by Farinton Reyes last year. The rape was proven in a court of law. However, the Nicaraguan Supreme Court ruled that it wasn’t rape rape. It was a crime of passion that was non-violent and with the “permissive cooperation” of the victim. What does “permissive cooperation” mean? She had a few beers with him, talked to him and went with him to the scene of the crime. So Reyes’ sentence was reduced from eight years to four, but the court ordered his release from prison after only 18 months. There are suspected political motivations.

This verdict has caused outrage. The head of the Nicaraguan Human Rights Centre, Vilma Núñez said:

“There is a victim, an assailant, a crime, a sentence, evidence, witnesses and  proof, but in the Court’s own judgment, it decided the criminal should go free and that the victim was to some extent responsible for allowing the crime to happen. This is unheard of.”

Too true. What this case does puts responsibility for a crime on the victim. Would this happen if a man had been mugged at night? Would anyone tell him that he shouldn’t have been out that late or on that side of town? A court of law certainly wouldn’t, because a crime had taken place. Someone forced their will on someone else in a manner that society has determined is unacceptable.

The problem here may be that, in some places and in some minds, rape is still acceptable. Women aren’t allowed to say no. Women, to protect themselves, have to be on their guard at all times. It’s a state of mind that men, no matter how empathetic, cannot understand. Maybe that’s why the only dissenting voice in this case was a woman.

Sexual violence is a daily threat for women around the world, but this is especially true in Nicaragua. There were 14 sexual assaults a day in Managua during the first five months of 2011, and half of all rapes in the country are perpetrated against girls under 14 years old.

Amnesty International has a campaign – Butterflies of Hope – where you can send messages of solidarity in the fight for the rights of women and girls in Nicaragua. My butterfly is featured above. The fight will be long, but if we stand together, we can win.